Nova Scotia Journal

Ex parish bookkeeper indicted for cheating two churches of $250K

Nova Scotia

Key takeaways: 

  • The 47-year-old lady used an ‘elaborate procedure’ over 12 years.
  • The archdiocese shut this 125-year-old church in West Chezzetcook was shut suddenly in 2018 by the archdiocese, citing mold concerns.

A 47-year older woman has been accused of cheating two churches on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore for almost $250,000 over 12 years, according to the RCMP/Halifax Regional Police financial crime team.

The activity occurred in the ex parish of St. Anselm’s Roman Catholic Church in West Chezzetcook. It persisted in the recently established parish of Saint John of the Cross in East Chezzetcook, according to a March 21 letter to parishioners. 

The East Chezzetcook female was arrested with three counts of scam over $5,000, three counts of possession of property received by crime, identity fraud, and falsification of books and documents, among other charges.

A police probe decided that the fraud was being committed by the bookkeeper between July 2009 and January 2020. 

Probe continues 

“The woman used her role as the parish’s bookkeeper to access budgets from the parish’s bank accounts for personal use and set recurring payments made to different establishments offering products and services within Nova Scotia,” police say in the press release. 

Read more: Nova Scotia releases largest-ever capital plan, beating $1.5B

A 47-year older woman has been accused of cheating two churches

Police first got a complaint from the public about financial irregularities at a parish in West Chezzetcook in July 2019. 

In a letter sent to parishioners on Monday, Father Vincent Onyekelu, the present priest of Saint John of the Cross Parish, said the worker was removed with a cause in December 2020. 

Police said the Archdiocese of Halifax/Yarmouth executed an internal probe and provided their findings to police in December 2020.

Police started investigating based on the results of the separate audit, which examined parish finances over 14 years. 

“The likely incidents involved multiple small transactions with an intricate process to cover up each transaction,” Onyekelu wrote. 

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